Earlier this week we had the opportunity to interview a current employee of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. Christina Stafford is the Program Coordinator of the Wellness Council, a subsidiary of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. We asked her about her internship experience and how it helped her prepare for her professional career. She started out as intern for the Wellness Council and received a full-time job offer after graduation!
Indiana INTERNnet: What is your current position and what do you do?
Christina Stafford: I currently serve as the program coordinator for the Wellness Council of Indiana (WCI). We are a subsidiary of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. My role at the WCI has evolved over the years, but my current responsibilities include member recruitment and retention (since we are membership-based organization.) I on-board new members and facilitate member benefits. In addition, I manage our program AchieveWELL, which provides assessment, evaluation, consulting and designation for company’s employee health and well-being efforts. I also contribute to our communication and marketing efforts and plan the calendar of member events including trainings, webinars and panel discussions.
IIN: When did you start looking for an internship and what were the motives behind it?
CS: I received my masters in wellness management with a minor in business from Ball State University. As part of this program, I was required to complete an internship. Early on I knew I wanted to intern for the WCI because it’s mission closely aligned with my area of study. I knew I would gain valuable experience helping employers throughout Indiana think through their employee health and well-being strategy. I interned with the WCI for about five months and I was fortunate to receive a full-time job offer after that. In addition to my work with the WCI, I had valuable internship experiences with other organizations throughout my schooling, including working with adults with developmental disabilities and working for a local federally-qualified health center.
IIN: What valuable experiences have you had in your internships?
CS: My internship experiences were valuable because they helped bridge the gap between school and the “working world.” It can be a big adjustment for students to go straight from going to school full-time to a full-time job, but internships can help ease the transition by allowing opportunities to strengthen professionalism, business etiquette and communication skills. During my internship, I had the opportunity to attend board meetings and consultations, which helped me become a more confident speaker, in addition to helping me practice preparing for meetings.
IIN: What career advice would you recommend to students applying for internships?
CS: My first piece of advice is a reminder that you can learn something from every internship and every task you are asked to complete – even if that means you learn what you don’t like to do. That’s important too! On a similar note, I would recommend having a couple internships in different industries or companies. It’s easy to get tunnel vision when you think about what you want to do for the rest of your life, so remember that your career might not follow the path you thought it would. Be willing to adapt, try new things, and always put forth your best effort, no matter the task.
IIN: What would you suggest to young professionals networking?
CS: While it’s important to develop relationships with people in your community and industry, the connections have to be meaningful. Don’t connect with people solely to use them as a stepping stone for your next job; be sincere and work hard to maintain those relationships! A mentor can help you progress through your career. Find someone you admire and ask them how they got to where they are – odds are they will be willing to help you be successful too.